In a phone interview for the novel late this morning, it went well, but I fear I may have come across some petty apologist for tenured professors when my big plan was to get everybody else decent health coverage and working conditions! (Yes, with the help of one good journalist, I was going to send everyone from the classroom to the doctor's waiting room free of charge!) But aye, the tenured profs (in many cases) are overworked and exhausted too. A few appear a bit too bright and energetic and chirpy for my taste, but I believe some proper guidance from yours truly in all the ways of anxiety, neuroses, doubt, angst, and general ennui could get them in shape.
But has anyone figured out how to apply Andrew Hacker's idea? I mean if everyone is reduced to a three-year contract, can we still protect free speech and the exchange of ideas? Isn't this the slippery slope to Nazi Germany where only the little Heideggars survive? And why did he pick on Virginia Woolf scholars and not political scientists studying all the wrong numbers in such a way that we'd wind up starving half the world? (Has that not already been brought to us from the "political economy" part of the academic world?) Sure, contract teachers are fucked (so to speak) and may need to cowtow to specialists mimicing Derrida and Foucault (in the very same ways their predecessors did thirty years ago), but without any tenure, what would prevent university presidents, CEOs, boards, and wealthy donors for firing at whim or making donations contingent upon the expressed intellectual ideas of professors? Arghh!
It also annoys me that Hacker risked so much--as in NOTHING--by publishing this book after his whole career was over. As Melville said, "I love all men who dive." Maybe he addresses this cowardice (no doubt caused by his pursuit of job security) in the book?
Also, if we begin to destroy the incomes and guarantees of all kinds of teachers (K through Lacan), we'll devastate the economy even more and there won't be anyone left to sell goods and services to. Everybody will be on short-term contracts and no bank will loan anyone money without a huge down payment and all of our current problems will be even more aggravated.
But yeah, it may be true that many tenured track and tenured professors do not work as many hours per week as conscientious adjuncts; and yet, I'd love to know exactly how we would devise a rubric for determining both the "quality" and "quantity" of work required to determine and "correct" these inequalities.
Another point is that once we recognize that the vast majority of tenured professors are not 200K hotshots at Ivy League schools, we soon see that their pay packages are inferior to high school teachers in suburban districts (read in part, "fixed income pension"). I know of sociology professors at Ivys starting at 47,000 per year and at small, obscure colleges around the country, even a tenure track can begin in the low 20s).
OK, but yes, none of this honesty or admission of complexity helps the people on the frontlines--the instructors and the students.
And contrasted with most from these groups, I'm afraid President Obama has no idea of what it really means to be treated like a dog:
But I look forward to his cash! Thanks, Barack.
Fight for Your Long Day!